Benefits of dozing on duty: naps bolster performance in repetitive visual tasks – Work

Benefits of dozing on duty: naps bolster performance in repetitive visual tasks – Work – Brief Article

Ian Loyd

BOSSES MAY BALK AT THE PROSPECT OF EMPLOYEES sleeping on the job, but new research indicates that everyone from security guards to musicians may benefit from naps. Just a half hour of sleep is critical to maintaining or improving performance in repetitive tasks such as screening baggage or practicing a musical score. Napping restores cognitive abilities that deteriorate when the visual cortex is overloaded with information, according to Sara Mednick, M.S., a graduate student in psychology at Harvard University and an avowed napper. Although the study focused on repetitive visual tasks, Mednick affirms that anyone can benefit from a short nap.

Mednick asked two groups of students to identify patterns projected rapidly onto a screen. Each group was then allowed to nap for either one half hour or one full hour between tests. A third, nap-deprived group showed a progressive decrease in performance. Conversely, subjects who had slept for a half hour continued to perform at baseline after their first nap, and those who slept for an hour performed the task much more efficiently when they resumed the test.

The findings, published in Nature Neuroscience and funded in part by the Spanish Ministry of Education, offer a persuasive argument for indulging a favorite Spanish pastime: the afternoon siesta.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group